When you are filling out a job application, you may come across that dreaded question: Have you been convicted of a crime? It’s a fair question, but it is not necessarily one that should bar a person from a career. After all, people make mistakes—if they have paid for them, then why would they continue to be penalized? In fact, a recent Huffington Post report reveals that many employers are easing up on criminal backgrounds—easing concerns of those who do not want their pasts to interfere with their futures.
It is critical to never lie on a resume—a majority of employers conduct background checks, and lying about a past criminal record could actually land you with another charge. Still, many of those who have been convicted in the past can be apprehensive about discussing this history. To focus on the present, without blurring the past, a carefully written resume and cover letter can help keep you confident as you apply for work.
The “Ban the Box” Movement and How It Improves Employment Consideration
As the aforementioned Huffington Post article details, the fact that every three out of 10 adults have a criminal record has led many states to consider banning the box that asks job applicants about such a history. While this does not necessarily require employers to hire those with criminal histories, it does encourage hiring parties to make more honest judgment of an applicant’s skills.
The article explains, “Ban-the-box laws don’t prevent employers from rejecting applicants because of their criminal pasts. However, they typically prohibit asking the question or running a criminal background check until the first or second interview or until an offer is made. The goal is to prevent employers from blackballing people based solely on their criminal background.”
This observation simply means that if you are in a state that “bans the box,” your resume and cover letter can be a great shot to make a good impression. If your skills, confidence and experience are professionally presented on a resume and in a cover letter, it is more likely that an employer will overlook criminal histories.
Honesty Goes a Long Way
While past criminals may worry that their personal histories will concern employers, it is best to be honest about it right off the bat—the cover letter is the best place to briefly yet honorably detail any past convictions. Being upfront and truthful can help an employer understand that you are dependable and someone who can be trusted—something that is hard for recruiters to detect among many different types of applicants.
Remember to carry this honesty over to any interviews that may follow an application. If you are able to express the crime, how it was seen by the court and how you have grown from the experience, many employers will be able to get in touch with your human nature, look past previous indiscretions and recognize what is most important—the skills you possess.
Skills Are Skills, Make Sure You Detail Them
If your past crime required a jail sentence, it is likely that you conducted work within a prison. It is important to recognize this work, even if it occurred while serving a sentence. Exploring these responsibilities not only shows you have an applicable professional history worth noting, but that you also made constructive use of your time to develop while paying for a crime.
If prison was not part of your conviction, you may still have been required to provide community service. Whether ordered or voluntary, this work can display a strong connection with social causes, an ability to work with others and a capacity to improve upon skills. As such, it is essential to never overlook any volunteer or service-related skills that came of a criminal sentence.
Finding Help to Make the Most of Your Past
Apart from carrying a criminal history, there are many reasons why an individual may be reluctant to craft an honest resume. For instance, some may fear that bouts of unemployment or illness will prevent them from gaining employment. Fortunately, there are many tactical and eloquent ways to deal with these histories in resumes and cover letters.
Whether you are an entry-level professional or a top executive, the Chic Resumes team is able to work with your past to create a compelling resume and cover letter. To learn more about our services and how we can help you perfect your job application materials, contact us at (803) 831-7444 or email@example.com.
Amanda E. Clark founded Grammar Chic in 2008. She is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and holds degrees in Journalism, Political Science, and English. She launched Grammar Chic after freelancing for several years while simultaneously leading marketing and advertising initiatives for several Fortune 500 companies.